Balancing Act: Tech Benefits & Boundaries


It’s my pleasure to feature a post by Matt Bavone who wears two hats at St. Luke’s: Upper School Classics teacher and Academic Technologist. Matt shares much-needed guidance for those trying to remove the phone surgically attached to their teen (spouse? self?).

One of the most common observations we hear from parents is that their children seem overly attached to—even obsessed with—their phones. In December, the Hilltop unplugged for the day and we all experienced life without our mobile devices, including cell phones. This was a big adjustment for the adults in the building, too, as we are also accustomed to being connected. But being “unplugged” is not a realistic solution on most days. So how can we—the adults—restore balance as we care for and raise Generation Z? We know parents are looking for good ideas.

This recent article by Janell Burley Hofmann underscores the need to responsibly introduce teens and tweens to technology. Hofmann pioneered the Slow Tech Parenting Movement, and she has created a sample contract for giving her 13 year old son his first iPhone. Her overarching message is that with great power comes great responsibility—and there is no greater power than having all of the world’s information outlets at your fingertips.

We cannot hope to shelter our young ones from technology, it is all around us. We are steeped in it daily, whether we think about it or not. Yet it is this thoughtfulness, this deliberate use of technology that is most important to pass down and teach. We parents and teachers—Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers—are tasked with being role models for its appropriate use. We will falter at times, give in to habit or distraction, but so will our young wards. The most important thing that we can do is to keep an open and honest conversation going and Hofmann’s article contains excellent talking points to that end. And though the task may at times seem daunting, as she puts it: “we are in this together.”

—Matt Bavone